26th September 2002, BBC, a 'Question Time' special. David Dimbleby presents the key question of the programme: 'Should Britain go to war without UN backing if Saddam Hussein denies the weapon inspectors the access he has offered?' SMS, fax and phone numbers appear so that the viewers can respond.
The subsequent studio discussions and the viewers' reactions suggest an atmosphere of a candid unbiased exchange of views. But it isn't. The central question is phrased in such a way that a third viable option is left out - the option of Britain not going to war at all, with or without UN backing. So Mr Dimbleby and his editorial staff only allow a televised debate on the question what Britain should do if there is no UN support. The analysis of their question reveals that they definitely want British lads to go to war in case there is a UN backing.
24th October 2002, BBC, Newsnight, Jeremy Paxman interviews Harold Pinter. Washington's warlike position is one of the topics. The playwright, anti-war, strongly disapproves of Mr Blair's docility towards the White House. Mr Paxman then asks: 'Are you denying that Saddam Hussein is a bad man?' The question suggests that everyone who opposes war believes that the Iraqi dictator is a good man, and that everyone who opposes war doesn't give a damn about the Iraqi people. So the question is meant to put anti-war people in the defensive.
16th January 2003, BBC Newsnight, an item about Prime Ministers in times of war. We get to see images of John Major during the 1991 Gulf War and of Sir Winston Churchill in 1940. The voice-over says: 'Now the pressure on Iraq is mounting, committing your country to war is one of the most difficult things to do for a Prime Minister. And today in the House of Commons, Mr Blair displayed Churchillean energy, certainty at its most, passionate on the subject'. This introduction was then followed by a fragment of a speech of the Prime Minister. In other words, the Newsnight staff edited an introduction meant to make us think that Mr Blair in 2003 is comparable with Mr Churchill in 1940.
10th February 2003, BBC Ten O'Clock News. NATO members France, Belgium and Germany had vetoed an American proposal to support Turkey in case of war. This is how BBC correspondent in Washington Matt Frei reported on this veto: 'France, Germany and Belgium are called the 'axis of weasels' here, Secretary of State Colin Powell gave up pleasing France some time ago, and Defence Secretary Rumsfeld says: well, there are only three of them, they are isolating themselves, sixteen out of nineteen countries join us'.
Mr Frei thus copied Washington's insult aimed at three European countries. Mr Frei thus teamed up with Mr Powell against those hopeless French. Mr Frei also teamed up with Mr Rumsfeld against three European countries, which he disdainfully called 'the old Europe'.
The same day, half an hour later, BBC Newsnight. Kirsty Wark interviews the French ambassador to NATO, Benoit d'Aboville. The Newsnight presenter pitches the tone of the interview through the following first three questions.
1) 'Isn't the French veto oppostion for oppostion's sake, mere gesture politics, why won't you support Turkey?'
2) 'But you could undermine NATO by this. If an ally feels threatened, like Turkey does, under NATO treaty you're obliged to help that ally.'
3) 'Is this not simply about responding to what you might feel as America's high-handed attitude, with Mr Rumsfeld snearing at the Old Europe, is this not simply Old Europe fighting back?'
1) Mrs Wark tries to put an anti-war diplomat in the defensive. Mrs Wark didn't invite the American ambassador to NATO for an interview to ask him: 'Why is America so anxious to create the favourable conditions for a two-front war against Iraq? The weapon inspectors haven't even delivered their crucial report yet.' Mrs Wark also didn't ask the not invited American ambassador: 'President Bush is energetically promoting Turkey's entry into the EU. It looks like a barter. Washington supports the Turkish wish to become a EU member, Ankara enables the Americans to open up a northern front against Iraq. What's your comment on that?'
2A) Virtual subtitles: 'Let me, Kirsty Wark, remind you, the French ambassador to NATO, what the NATO treaty is all about.'
2B) Mrs Wark put things on their heads here. In February 2003, it wasn't Iraq that threatened Turkey. It was the Turkish willingness towards the American military that threatened Iraq.
3) 'IS it not what you MIGHT feel?' Without asking it, Mrs Wark already knows for sure that French frustration ignited the veto. By wording the question that way, she tried to pull the Newsnight viewers to the opinion that France was just acting childishly.
18th February 2003, BBC Newsnight. Worldwide the tension is mounting, as America increasingly shows his eagerness to attack Iraq. Jeremy Paxman interviews American playwright Arthur Miller ('Death of a salesman'). Mr Miller is against the war. He has constantly to defend his viewpoint against Mr Paxman's prejudiced questions, all having the undertone of 'America simply has to do this'.
At one point Mr Miller mentions a moral argument against war of General Schwarzkopf, who was the Allied commander in the 1991 conflict. However, Mr Paxman doesn't ask the writer to elaborate on this argument. He ignores his remark completely, as if it wasn't said at all. Mr Paxman only likes his own moral argument while he asks the following question: 'Don't you accept even a moral argument against Saddam Hussein, that he has driven four million people into exile, that he has killed a million of his citizens, tortured countless numbers of others?' Mr Paxman apparently only wants to discuss moral arguments if they are pro-war arguments.
However, the moral arguments against war are quite clear in February 2003. 1) No war, no human misery. 2) No war, no worsening anti-Western hatred in the Arab world (that already led to the terror of 11th September) and among the millions of Muslims living in the Western countries. 3) No war, no further destabilization of the already tension-packed Middle East. 4) No war, no increasing concern in the capitals of China and other countries that were already labelled as possible nuclear targets on an astonishing list the US Secretary of State accidentally dropped on the floor in 2002. In other words, no war, no other nuclear powers that will think: 'Pre-emptive strikes? Two can play at that game.'
Let's return to the Arthur Miller interview. Another question of Mr Paxman: 'You live in New York, you must vividly recall what happened on 9/11. Is the sort of world in which we live now, isn't some sort of pre-emptive strike the only defensive option available to the US?' Now, at a press conference in January 2003, even the American President had declared he had no evidence of a link between Saddam Hussein's government and the terrorist network that attacked the Twin Towers. So in this question, Mr Paxman wrongly suggests that war with Iraq is morally legitimized by 11th September.
24th February 2003, BBC Ten O'Clock News. While the anti-war rebellion in his own party is growing, the Prime Minister is preparing his key Commons speech to obtain parliamentary consent for the war option. Andrew Marr reports. I quote: 'That what encourages Saddam Hussein is the peace party in the West, the divided European leaders, the marches in the streets of London, the rebellion in the Labour Party. Those people are actually sending messages which will persuade Saddam Hussein to carry on playing games and not to disarm and who'll therefore make an attack within weeks inevitable. That's a difficult argument to get across, but it is the one he has to'
In my analysis: according to the reasoning of Mr Marr, the war will start anyhow, with or without a worldwide anti-war movement. Mr Marr was brainstorming aloud about the contents of Mr Blair's speech, so Mr Marr wasn't neutrally informing us, but he was taking sides against the anti-war voices in the Labour Party and in society. Mr Marr copied the Bush term 'Saddam playing games' and was therefore volunteering as a bellicose White House spokesman.
To wind up this section, some remarks of Mr Frost in several episodes of his Sunday programme.
23rd February 2003. The host interviews former PM John Major. Three times Mr Frost talks about 'the first Gulf War', although it is still peace time. Mr Frost evidently tries to talk his viewers into believing that the second Gulf War is inevitable.
16th March 2003. Mr Frost quotes several cheap anti-French jokes from some American newspapers, so he seems to exploit irrational Francophobic sentiments because France opposes the war. He has also invited John Kampfner, an editor of 'The New Statesman', an opinion magazine. Mr Kampfner, pro-war, praises the logic of a Sunday Telegraph story, written by Ann Appelbaum, also pro-war. The drift of that article is that the American President was mistaken to initially follow Mr Blair's advice to stick to the UN route in the first place. He'd better listened to Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Perle right-away, who wanted him to aggressively exert American supremacy from the outset.
In short, the BBC was creating a pro-war mood before the House of Commons on 18th March 2003 voted for war with Iraq. (The 'Beeb' should preferably have accounted to the public for their own manipulations, before they started accusing the government of the same thing.)